As a higher institution trying to get a foothold in a competitive landscape driven by young adults, it’s imperative that you stay up to date on the latest digital marketing trends. Not only will this knowledge help keep your school current but also it will successfully speak to your prospects.
We already know that Millennials don’t respond well to traditional marketing tactics; they instead are engaged and find trust in brands that have a strong online presence. The new generation of college students still has much for us to learn about them, but we can expect that they too will respond best to creative, forward-thinking inbound marketing tactics that build brand awareness and strengthen the student-brand relationship.
To stay on the cutting-edge of marketing, be sure to familiarize yourself with these 10 digital and social higher ed trends.
1. Virtual Reality
Are you wondering where virtual reality would fit into your marketing agenda? It’s not like your college or university has a top selling video game sitting on the shelves. But interestingly, there is a place for virtual reality in your marketing strategy. In fact, a number of universities are already developing their own virtual reality walk-through tours that provide students with a true to life glimpse of campus life.
2. Creative Videos
Young people like to consume information in a fun, fast and compelling manner. They have grown up in an online world where content is expected, websites are an extension of every brand and relationships are built online. They aren’t particularly impressed with all forms of content, which means yours needs to stand out. Creative videos are an excellent way to capture interest, share your message and personalize interactions with prospects.
Another trend to keep on the lookout for is podcasting. Not many universities have developed a strategy for podcasting yet, so if you can work quickly and efficiently, you can be in your own lane. Podcasting has huge potential. It’s another way to connect with prospective students, and you can share information for young people who prefer to consume content on their own time, in an audio format.
4. 24/7 Customer Service
The online world never sleeps, and neither should your online college or university. More schools are moving in the direction of offering help 24 hours a day so that students can book campus tours, download content, watch virtual campus tours and more at any hour. The college audience is no stranger to around-the-clock research, and your international audience will appreciate a consistent experience even though your night is their day.
5. Experiential Marketing
This form of marketing helps consumers experience a brand, and it’s being integrated into the higher ed marketing landscape rather quickly. Let prospects experience a day at your college or university so they can determine if it’s the right fit for them. Invite students to sit in on classes, eat at the cafeteria and tour the residence halls.
6. Social Data
Big Data got big attention a couple of years back, but many marketers still fall short when it comes to knowing how to use this information. As of recently, the trend has shifted to what brands choose to do with the data rather than the size of it. The same goes for colleges and universities. Collecting social data and applying these findings to your overall marketing strategy is crucial to connecting with the right leads.
7. Pay to Play
You’ve probably already noticed that it’s becoming increasingly harder for your school’s content to show up in the news feeds of Facebook and Twitter. With brands looking to increase engagement and target new audiences, social networks know that they are in the driver’s seat. If you want your content to be seen, you’ll need to invest some money into it. Fortunately, there are plenty of targeting tools to help you better reach your audience and make the most of your budget.
The up-and-coming generations are growing up with vloggers, so they’ll expect this same type of content at least some of the time. It’s a good thing that colleges and universities can once again benefit from this unique platform. Vlogging – the bridge between blogging and videos – allows for student-to-student communications. Already we’ve seen students creating vlogs about their college experience, and it’s a great way for prospects to experience campus life with a dash of personal expression from the vlogger.
The splinternet refers to the splintering and dividing of the Internet. Just a few years ago, the dominating forces were Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Then came Instagram and Pinterest. Now there’s Snapchat, Yik Yak, Whatsapp and more. The list is neverending, and so are the marketing opportunities. You can’t possibly market effectively on each network, otherwise you’ll exhaust your resources. Look for more higher institutions to get better at segmentation in the coming years.
10. Responsive Design
It’s imperative that your website is responsive, meaning that it adapts to whatever screen it’s being viewed on. But expect this to get bigger and better. The college audience uses just about every screen out there – tablets, smartphones, desktops, laptops and more. If there’s something new out there, you can bet they’ll be using it. But this means that you’ll have to create websites that offer flawless user experiences in terms of big images, full screen videos and more parallaxes.
We hope that these top 10 trends in higher ed digital marketing have inspired you to amp up your strategy.